Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Bothriochloa pertusa
(pitted beard grass)



Bothriochloa pertusa (pitted beard grass)


  • Last modified
  • 13 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Bothriochloa pertusa
  • Preferred Common Name
  • pitted beard grass
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • B. pertusa is a perennial grass native to eastern and southern Asia. It has been widely introduced outside Asia, in the Americas, Australia and the Pacific, either accidentally or probably in some cases deliber...

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Bothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); habit. Kaupo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2003.
CaptionBothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); habit. Kaupo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2003.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Bothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); habit. Kaupo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2003.
HabitBothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); habit. Kaupo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2003.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Bothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); inflorescence. Kiei, Lanai, Hawaii, USA. April , 2006.
CaptionBothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); inflorescence. Kiei, Lanai, Hawaii, USA. April , 2006.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Bothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); inflorescence. Kiei, Lanai, Hawaii, USA. April , 2006.
InflorescenceBothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); inflorescence. Kiei, Lanai, Hawaii, USA. April , 2006.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Bothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); seedheads. South Beach Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June, 2008
CaptionBothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); seedheads. South Beach Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June, 2008
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Bothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); seedheads. South Beach Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June, 2008
SeedheadsBothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); seedheads. South Beach Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June, 2008©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Bothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); close-up of seedheads. South Beach Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June, 2008
CaptionBothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); close-up of seedheads. South Beach Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June, 2008
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Bothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); close-up of seedheads. South Beach Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June, 2008
SeedheadsBothriochloa pertusa (Pitted beardgrass); close-up of seedheads. South Beach Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June, 2008©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Bothriochloa pertusa (L.) A. Camus

Preferred Common Name

  • pitted beard grass

Other Scientific Names

  • Amphilophis pertusa (L.) Stapf
  • Andropogon pertusus (L.) Willd.
  • Bothriochloa nana W.Z. Fang
  • Dichanthium pertusum (L.) Clayton
  • Holcus pertusus L.
  • Lepeocercis pertusa (L.) Hassk.
  • Sorghum pertusum (L.) Kuntze

International Common Names

  • English: hurricane pitted-bluestem; Indian couch grass; pitted beardgrass; sweet pitted grass
  • Spanish: camagueyna; comagueyana; yerba huracán

Local Common Names

  • Australia: Indian blue grass
  • Caribbean: Antigua hay; Barbados sour grass
  • China: kong ying cao
  • Cuba: camagüeyana; yerba camagüeyana
  • Dominican Republic: acaba finca
  • India: Sandhor
  • Indonesia: rebha las-alasan; suket putihan
  • Lesser Antilles: Seymour grass
  • Malaysia: rumput embun
  • Mexico: carreterograss
  • New Caledonia: silver grass
  • Philippines: salay; salay-parang
  • Puerto Rico: yerba agria de Barbados; yerba amarga
  • Thailand: ya-hangma; ya-hom
  • USA: hurricane grass; pitted beardgrass; pitted blue-stem; seymour grass
  • Vietnam: huyêt tha'o lô

Summary of Invasiveness

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B. pertusa is a perennial grass native to eastern and southern Asia. It has been widely introduced outside Asia, in the Americas, Australia and the Pacific, either accidentally or probably in some cases deliberately for use as a forage grass. It has established itself in many habitats where it is able to out-compete native species due to its ability to establish dense mats and shade out slower establishing species. In Australia it is now an established invasive species in both the Northern Territory and central Queensland. It is similarly regarded as invasive in Mexico, in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Anguilla and the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, in Mauritius, and in New Caledonia, the Marquesas Islands, Midway Atoll and Hawaii in the Pacific. In Hawaii, it is among species threatening the endangered plants Spermolepis hawaiiensis and Wilkesia hobdyi. Through its effects on native vegetation, it likewise threatens the endangered lizard Ameiva polops in the US Virgin Islands, and affects populations of ants and birds in Australia.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Bothriochloa
  •                                 Species: Bothriochloa pertusa

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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B. pertusa was originally named Holcus pertusus by Linnaeus. It has since been included in a number of other genera including Andropogon, Amphiliopis and Dicanthium, but is now almost invariably referred to as Bothriochoa pertusa. The term pertusa means 'pierced' and presumably relates to the pitted glumes.

Natural hybridization between B. intermedia and B. pertusa apparently takes place in India (Wet and Higgins, 1964).

A number of varieties have been developed e.g. in Australia (Cook et al., 2005), Colombia (Roncallo F et al., 2012) and India (Cook et al., 2005).

Some confusion and uncertainty about the distribution of B. pertusa has arisen due to its very close similarity to the mainly African species B. insculpta. Clayton and Renvoize (1982) comment that B. insculpta ‘cannot be reliably separated from the Asiatic B. pertusaand it is uncertain whether the latter has been introduced to Africa. B. pertusa is a stoloniferous sward-forming plant with a delicate few-racemed sub-digitate inflorescence and pitless pedicelled spikelets. Both species have been maintained pending further cytogenetic investigation, for it appears that they do not interbreed (Wet and Higgins, 1963) but a purely geographical distinction without adequate discriminatory morphological characters is clearly unsatisfactory.’ Chippindall (1955) also comments that although some South African plants have been referred to B. pertusa, they cannot be reliably separated from B. insculpta on the basis of the key characters generally used, including the presence or absence of pits and hairiness of the sessile spikelets.

However, B. insculpta has a chromosome number of 2n=50 or 2n=60, compared to 2n=40 in B. pertusa, and the two species are thus distinct and seperable in terms of ploidy. Furthermore, when Pengelly et al. (1997) compared 128 accessions of B. pertusa and B. insculpta on the basis of agronomic characters including flowering time, stolon development and yield, they found that the two species formed clearly different groups.

On the basis of the above, it is confidently assumed that the two are distinct species, and this datasheet deals with B. pertusa only.


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B. pertusa is a stoloniferous perennial. Stolons often pink, rooting at the nodes, creeping extensively to form a sward. Nodes bearded. Stems geniculately erect 60-100 cm high. Leaves up 10-30 cm long, 2-5 mm wide, apex acute, mainly crowded at the base of the culms, usually glabrous, but with some scattered hairs. Ligule cilate 1-2 mm long. Inflorescence sub-digitate with up to 12 shortly pedunculate purplish racemes each up to 7 cm long, the lowest longer than the central axis, pilose. Sessile spikelet narrowly elliptic 3-4 mm log, lower glume cartilaginous, hairy on the lower half, with one or two pits in upper half; fertile lemma reduced to a slender geniculate awn up to 20 mm (normally 10-17 mm) long. Pedicelled spikelet on densely hairy pedicel up to 3 mm long, glabrous, occasionally pitted, usually sterile. Caryopsis 1.5 to 2 mm long, and shed firmly enclosed in the fertile lemma with sterile lemma and awn still attached.

Plant Type

Top of page Grass / sedge
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


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B. pertusa is native to eastern and southern Asia but has been widely introduced into the Americas, the Caribbean, Australia and the Pacific, either deliberately or otherwise. It is uncertain whether it has been introduced to Africa. Clayton and Renvoize (1982) comment that B. insculpta ‘cannot be reliably separated from the Asiatic B. pertusa’ and this has led to the uncertainty, although they do appear to be distinct species. It seems likely that it would have been introduced as a forage plant in Africa but there are no reliable records.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


BhutanPresent only in captivity/cultivation1996IntroducedNoltie, 2000
CambodiaPresentNativePIER, 2013
ChinaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
-GuangdongPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
-SichuanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
-YunnanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
IndiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
-Andhra PradeshPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-BiharPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-GujaratPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-Himachal PradeshPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-Indian PunjabPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-Jammu and KashmirPresentBhat and Kaul, 1989
-KarnatakaPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-KeralaPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-Madhya PradeshPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-MaharashtraPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-NagalandPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-OdishaPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-RajasthanPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-Tamil NaduPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-Uttar PradeshPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-West BengalPresentNativeShukla, 1996
IndonesiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
MalaysiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
MyanmarPresentNativeShukla, 1996
NepalPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
PakistanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
Sri LankaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
ThailandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
VietnamPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013


EthiopiaAbsent, unreliable recordIntroducedFroman and Persson, 1974
MadagascarPresentIntroducedMadagascar Catalogue, 2014
MauritiusPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2013
RéunionPresentIntroducedCadet, 1970

North America

MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive GBIF, 2013
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
-MarylandPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
-MississippiPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
-TexasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2013
Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedPaterson, 1986
ArubaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
BahamasPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013Mayaguana Island
BarbadosPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
BelizePresentIntroducedFlora Mesoamericana, 2014
BonairePresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2013
Costa RicaPresentIntroduced Invasive Chacon and Saborio, 2012
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Tóth et al., 1997; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
CuraçaoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
DominicaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced Invasive Kairo et al., 2003
GrenadaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedAumont and Xande, 1989
HondurasPresentIntroducedFlora Mesoamericana, 2014
JamaicaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2014
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedFlora of Nicaragua, 2014
PanamaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2014
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedKairo et al., 2003; USDA-NRCS, 2013
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedLindsay and Horwith, 1999
Saint LuciaPresentIntroduced Invasive Graveson, 2012; ISSG, 2013Risk to coastal grasslands and savanna
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive McNair and Lombard, 2004; USDA-NRCS, 2013

South America

BrazilPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-CearaPresentIntroducedValls, 2014Naturalized
ColombiaPresentIntroducedPérez C et al., 2012
EcuadorPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014


ItalyPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedGrossi et al., 1998


AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive GBIF, 2013
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroduced Invasive Jones, 1997
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive McIvor, 2007
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2013
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013Nuku Hiva, Marquesas islands
GuamPresentPIER, 2013
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013Île Matthew, Île Grande Terre
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentPIER, 2013
US Minor Outlying IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013Midway Atoll, Sand Island

History of Introduction and Spread

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In Mexico, B. pertusa was identified in the early 1970s; it is believed that it was introduced from southern Europe to the Caribbean and that from there it invaded a large part of the Mexican Gulf Coast (Alba and Gould, 1977). Dates of introduction to other areas are uncertain, but for the Caribbean, there are records of specimens from 1896 in the Virgin Islands (St. Croix), 1917 in Jamaica, and from 1943 in Puerto Rico (US National Herbarium); also from 1956 in Colombia and 1970 in Nicaragua (GBIF, 2013). Earliest records of specimens from Hawaii are from 1936 and, for the mainland USA, from 1958. As the species is regarded as a useful forage grass, it is likely that at least some introductions have been deliberate, although no definite documentary evidence of such introduction beyond the local scale is available.

Risk of Introduction

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There would appear to be some risk of further deliberate introductions due to the perceived value of B. pertusa as a forage grass and as a soil stabilizer.


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In Hawaii, B. pertusa is naturalised in open, disturbed sites, pastures, savannahs and along roadsides (PIER, 2013). In China it occurs on grassy hills and disturbed ground (eFloras, 2013). In India it is common in heavily grazed or frequently mown areas of grassland and open woodland up to 2500 m. According to Cook et al. (2005), it is 'Common on neutral to alkaline, cracking clay soils of India, but also grows on well drained, coarse to fine-textured soils with a pH as low as 5.0. Colonises poorer soils where other grasses may not grow, particularly when management favours spread of the species.' In Costa Rica, B. pertusa invades disturbed areas in dry and wet forests, pastures and roadsides (Chacon and Saborio, 2012). 

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Industrial / intensive livestock production systems Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Principal habitat Natural
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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B. pertusa is rarely recorded as a weed of crops but may impact wild species as noted under ‘Impact on Biodiversity’.

Biology and Ecology

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Chromosome number n is variously quoted as 18 or 20 but 2n usually as 40, or occasionally as 60 (Missouri Botanic Garden, 2013; eFloras, 2013; Wet and Higgins, 1964).

Wet and Higgins (1964) suggest that B. pertusa is a segmental allotetraploid to which the genomes BBB2B2 were assigned by Harlan et al. (1961) -- ‘The B and B2 genomes are sufficiently different to allow strict bivalent formation, but closely enough related for occasional multivalents to be produced during meiosis.’ They note that apomictic Bothriochloa species can function sexually. These authors discuss further detail of the genetics of B. pertusa (and of B. insculpta) including the status of a hexaploid (2n = 60) referred to as B. pertusa var. bifovelotata.

Reproductive Biology

B. pertusa is described as apomictic by Wet and Higgins (1964).

Seed production in a grazed pasture in Australia was recorded as 840-1070 per m2 (McIvor et al., 1996). The species flowers relatively late in the season, 86 days after Jan 1 in the Australian summer.

Very little information has been found on germination, but Cook et al. (2005) note that there is a high level of dormancy in freshly harvested seed, which breaks down after 4-9 months storage. Pathak et al. (1971) also noted the highest germination after 10 months storage.

Physiology and Phenology

B. pertusa is a C4 plant (Rogers et al. 2004). ISSG (2013) notes that stolons may grow to 1.6m in length, and patches can grow to 2.7 m in 5 years.


In dry storage, seeds of B. pertusa retained viability for at least 84 months (Parihar and Rai, 1985).

B. pertusa is a perennial grass. In Queensland, Australia, there was more than 50% survival of B. pertusa plants after 4 years (McIvor, 2007).


B. pertusa responds to P and N fertilization but has relatively low requirements and thrives under low fertility conditions (Cook et al., 2005).


Pérez C et al. (2012) found a range of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi associated with B. pertusa in Colombia. Li et al. (2010) have similarly documented the AM fungi of B. pertusa in China. Perez C et al. (2010) also identified a range of bacterial endophytes associated with B. pertusa in Colombia.

Gomez et al. (2010) identified 10 nematode species associated with B. pertusa in Colombia.

Environmental requirements

Germination and early seedling growth rate were less affected in B. pertusa than in Dichanthium annulatum at 5, 10 and 15 dSm-1 of applied salinity. Reduction in dry weight was obvious only at 15 dSm-1 (Parveen Akhtar and Farrukh Hussain, 2008). Tóth et al. (1997), however, found B. pertusa less tolerant of salinity than several other species in saline pastures in Cuba, being adversely affected over 8 dSm-1.

B. pertusa tolerates heavy grazing in Australia (McIvor, 1998). In the United States and Central America, this species also grows on poor soils in areas subject to heavy grazing and mowing (Cook et al. 2005).  

Characteristics of B. pertusa include rapid early development of an effective nodal root system, adaptation to a wide range of soil types, tolerance to drought and fire, good seed producing ability and low maintenance requirements. It could, when planted deliberately, be established on various substrates including mulch, cover crop and a fine seed bed (Truong and McDowell, 1985).

Optimum rainfall is 600-900 mm/annum but the species is not restricted to this and grows well with much higher annual rainfall. It is tolerant of widely varying soil types and not dependent on high soil fertility. Shoots are damaged by frost.


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Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
35 30


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall5002000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • saline

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Aeneolamia reducta Herbivore
Claviceps purpurea Pathogen
Claviceps pusilla Pathogen
Crypticerya genistae Herbivore
Macalpinomyces bothriochloae Pathogen
Nigrocornus scleroticus Pathogen
Nothanguina cecidoplastes Herbivore
Physoderma bothriochloae Pathogen
Puccinia cesatii Pathogen
Puccinia duthiei Pathogen
Puccinia erythraeensis Pathogen
Puccinia pusilla Pathogen
Sporisorium Pathogen
Sporisorium tenue Pathogen
Uromyces andropogonis-annulati Pathogen

Notes on Natural Enemies

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B. pertusa is a confirmed host of the spittlebug Aeneolamiareducta (Peck et al., 2002) and of the scale insect Crypticerya genistae in Florida, USA (Hodges et al., 2008).

It is a host for the nematode Nothanguina cecidoplastes in India (Devaiah et al., 1973).

Cook et al. (2005) record susceptibility to the fungi Puccinia duthiei andClaviceps pusilla (which are the main pathogens in cultivation), as well as a Sporisorium sp., Balansia sclerotica[Nigrocornus scleroticus], Claviceps purpurea, Physoderma bothriochloae, Puccinia cesatii, P. erythraeensis, P. pusilla, Sphacelotheca tenuis[Sporisorium tenue], Ustilago bothriochloae [Macalpinomyces bothriochloae] and Uromyces andropogonis-annulati. The same source notes that the variety Dawson is resistant to the rust Puccinia duthiei.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Natural dispersal of B. pertusa is presumed to be by wind and water movement but no specific information has been seen.

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

There can be some movement of seed via livestock, birds and humans (ISSG, 2013).

Accidental Introduction

Accidental introduction can no doubt occur via contaminated seed of forage grass and legume species, but no documentation has been seen.

Intentional Introduction

Deliberate introduction is likely to have occurred, and could still occur, for use as a forage plant or soil stabilization agent.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Forage Yes Yes
Habitat restoration and improvement Yes Yes
HitchhikerLivestock, birds and humans Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Land vehiclesSeeds, plant fragments Yes
LivestockSeeds, plant fragments Yes
Machinery and equipmentContaminant Yes
Soil, sand and gravelContaminant Yes
WaterPresumed Yes
WindPresumed Yes

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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It seems likely that there has been economic impact where B. pertusa has invaded pastures and reduced the carrying capacity of the grazing (e.g. Kutt and Kemp, 2012), but it appears that no quantification of the financial impact has been reported.

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Biodiversity

In Hawaii, the endangered species Spermolepis hawaiiensis (Apiaceae) on Kauai Island is threatened by introduced species including B. pertusa (US Fish and Wildlife Service 2010b). On the same island the endangered Wilkesia hobdyi (Compositae) is also threatened by B. pertusa and other introduced species invading areas grazed by goats (US Fish and Wildlife Service 2010a).

Kutt and Kemp (2012) describe how B. pertusa was introduced to Australia as a species for rehabilitation of degraded grazing land but has negatively affected species richness in natural pastures into which it has spread.

In a study in Queensland, Australia, comparing invaded and less invaded sites, the replacement of the native Bothriochloa ewartiana by the introduced B. pertusa resulted in a different faunal species composition. In particular, bird species richness was negatively correlated with B. pertusa frequency, as was the abundance of ground nesting birds (e.g. rufous songlark Cincloramphus mathewsi and golden-headed cisticola Cisticola exilis) and terrestrial reptiles (e.g. Carlia munda and Ctenotus taeniolatus); on the other hand disturbance-tolerant species such as the Australian magpie Cracticus tibicen and yellow-throated miner Manorina flavigula were more abundant in the B. pertusa-dominated sites (Kutt and Fisher, 2011).

Also in Queensland, ant abundance, richness and diversity were significantly lower in sites which were characterized by high levels of B. pertusa. These changes could arise indirectly through the effects of B. pertusa on changes in native plant community structure and habitat complexity (Kutt and Fisher, 2010).

B. pertusa is seriously affecting the Critically Endangered endemic St. Croix Ground Lizard (Ameiva polops) on Green Cay, off St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. McNair and Lombard (2004) found that this endangered species was essentially absent from areas dominated by B. pertusa, which forms dense mats and shades out shrubs especially on the windward slopes. On Ruth Island, also off St. Croix, the same story is observed although to a lesser degree (McNair and Mackay, 2005).

Hussain et al. (2011) suggest that B. pertusa may have some allelopathic activity, but Hu and Jones (1999) failed to confirm any allelopathy against Stylosanthes hamata in Australia.

In Cuba and Costa Rica B. pertusa is listed as one of the most noxious invasive plants invading areas in dry and wet forests (Chacon and Saborio, 2012; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012). 

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Ameiva polopsCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)United States Virgin IslandsMcNair and Mackay, 2005
Spermolepis hawaiiensis (Hawaii scaleseed)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resources; Ecosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010b
Wilkesia hobdyi (dwarf iliau)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); National list(s) National list(s); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetitionUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010a

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Competition
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field


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Economic Value

B. pertusa has been used and studied as a pasture grass intensively in Australia and Colombia, and utilized in many other countries, including for example India and Mauritius. In Australia it was concluded that B. pertusa is a useful pasture grass giving steer gains equal to, or higher than, the gains from the native pasture which it replaced (Jones, 1997). Cook et al. (2005) comment that it is suitable as a permanent pasture on poorer soils and can be cut for hay or silage, but becomes unpalatable after flowering.

B. pertusa is still valued as a forage in Colombia, especially on degraded soils, as a number of recent publications confirm (e.g. Roncallo F et al., 2012). It is also ‘highly esteemed’ as a forage in Pakistan (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2013).

USDA-ARS (2013) refers to uses for erosion control, as a lawn/turf grass, as a plant for revegetation, and as a forage.

Environmental Services

B. pertusa can be useful when it takes over areas and prevents natural soil erosion (ISSG, 2013). For instance, it has been used as a component of a grass mixture for controlling erosion on railway embankments in Australia (Gyasi-Agyei et al., 2001). Pastures dominated by B. pertusa had lower runoff and lower rates of soil movement than pastures dominated by Heteropogon contortus when compared at the same level of cover (Scanlan et al., 1996).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Forage


  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Land reclamation
  • Revegetation
  • Soil conservation

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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B. insculpta is distinguished from B. pertusa by having pedicelled spikelets pitted (though B. pertusa can sometimes have them) and sessile glabrous spikelets (Froman and Persson, 1974). Also it normally has more racemes and is more robust, taller, and less stoloniferous than B. pertusa.

Prevention and Control

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Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures

On the US Virgin Islands it has been suggested that B. pertusa should be mechanically removed and the area immediately replanted with native seedlings of Tabebuia heterophylla, Cordia rickseckeri, Conocarpus erectus, and other suitable trees (Bursera simaruba) and taller shrubs, which will prevent the shade-intolerant grass from re-establishing itself (ISSG, 2013).

Physical/Mechanical Control

An increase in cutting frequency tended to increase the dry matter yield of B. pertusa (Rangel, 2001).

Biological Control

There is no record of any attempt at biological control.

Chemical Control

Bothriochloa spp. are listed as susceptible to methazole post-emergence (Zandstra, 2013).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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There is a need for more information on control of B. pertusa by herbicides.


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20/05/14 Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

09/04/13: Original text by:

Chris Parker, consultant, Bristol, UK.

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